Tips for coming to study in Australia
Sonder Australia would like to congratulate all the international students coming to study in Australia. Australia is a beautiful and welcoming country. Whilst students are probably very excited about their new adventure, parents might be a little worried about their child heading for the other side of the world. To assist in preparation, we’re going to give you some tips for coming to study in Australia.
Australia has a variety of different climates but generally warmer compared to the weather in China, and on par with climates in the South East Asian region. To find out more about specific clothes and packing tips, check out our more detailed pre-departure articles for different cities in Australia. There is a time difference between Australia and China. The difference will depend on which state you are studying in. Additionally, there is also daylight saving in some regions in Australia, hence the time difference varies by an hour between summer and winter.
Tips for accommodation
Once your letter of offer has been received, students and parents will probably find that accommodation is the very first thing to consider before coming to Australia.
Usually agencies would suggest homestay for new students or students under 18. Homestay is very convenient for new students because they are fully furnished. The host family will get everything prepared and food will also be cooked for you. Moreover, living with a western family can help you to improve English language skills as well as adapt to the local culture.
University apartments or colleges
University accommodation is good for independent university students who are over 18. Applications for these apartments or colleges may need to be done half year in advance due to their high demand. They are also fully furnished but you will need to bring some everyday items, like bedding, towels, shampoo etc.
Private room rent
Students can find room renting advertisements on Wechat platforms, or other websites such as Gumtree or Facebook. Contact the landlord if you are happy with the room, and note you will need to pay the deposit in advance. When you arrive in Australia, simply get the key off the landlord and you can move in. Rooms will be fully furnished, like university apartments, so you just need to bring your own personal everyday items.
Tips for packing your luggage
The winter weather here in Australia varies a lot across different states, but in general is much warmer than most Chinese cities. There is no need to pack big thick winter items unless you are considering going to the snow, or are studying in Canberra. You can find more details on what to pack in our city-specific pre-departure articles for international students.
Homestay students do not need to bedding because the host family will provide these for you. However, for uni apartments and private rooms, you must bring your own. If not, you can easily get these from stores or supermarkets here.
Another important tool you will need to remember to pack is power adaptor. Australian power sockets use a two angled prongs on the top, with a single vertical prong underneath. If you are unsure, universal adaptors are available for purchase at the airports during your flight to Australia, or from supermarkets and shopping centres in your local city of study.
What to eat is one of the biggest concerns student have. Some parents may think that you need to pack your own cooking utensils, however you can easily purchase them in Australia from supermarkets or stores nearby. It may cost a little bit more to buy them here but can save you a lot of luggage space. If you are the sort of person who loves traditional Chinese food and cooking, you will need to pack the traditional cooking equipment with you.
If you would want to bring local food with you to Australia, you need to be extra careful. Quarantine in Australia is extremely strict. No fresh food will be allowed to go through and everything else needs to be air sealed. Most importantly, if you are in doubt about what to declare when coming through customs at Australian airports, declare everything!
Essentials for your daily life
We all need mobile phones. A lot of students tend to get international roaming but this can be extremely expensive. It is easy to get a local sim card in the airport or supermarkets here, and prepaid services can be purchased. You can also get contract phones; all you need is to bring your proof of address, course of enrolment and photo ID to a provider, and then they will get it processed for you.
Most students don’t need to worry about internet access as most of the homestay families, uni apartments and private rooms will provide it. If you happen to live in university accommodation that don’t provide internet, you can always look up different services online, find the deal that suits you and contact the provider to get an internet connection set up.
It is vital to have an Australian account as it’s much safer than carrying lots of cash around. Look up what different banks offer online and then bring the required documents to a branch of the bank. You don’t need to worry too much about the language barrier as there are a lot of bilingual staff who can help.
Tips for study in Australia
Now let’s have a peek at different study environments in Australia. Here are some new definitions that you may find helpful.
O-week is the very first week of a semester to welcome new students. In this week lots of stalls set up on the main walkway and will introduce you to the societies in the university. There are other seminars organised by the university to help students to get prepared for their new university life.
Census date is usually about 2-3 weeks after the semester starts. It is important for you to be aware of this date because you won’t be able to drop or change courses for free afterwards.
Lectures usually goes for 2-3 hours and about once or twice a week, depending on your course of study. They are usually recorded so you can review the course content again later. Attendance is usually not recorded, however this depends on which campus you are studying at.
Tutorials are much smaller classes, around 25-50 students. They usually involve a lot of discussions with help from tutors, who could be master or PhD students from the school. Attendance may be recorded so you need to think twice if you want to skip a tutorial.
Usually engineering and science students will have practical classes. Read the requirements before the lab carefully. You must bring your own protective items such as enclosed shoes and safety glasses to the lab, and some experiments may require you to have lab coats. Make sure that you are aware of these requirements, otherwise you may not be allowed to go into the lab.
Most courses run min-semester and final exams, held halfway through and at the end of the semester. Marks are not just from the final exam. There are quizzes, reports and assignments throughout the semester that need to be handed in, which are also used to assess your final scores for a course.
Results will be out about one month after the exam. They will be sent through your university email and can be checked on the university website after you log into your account.
This is a basic introduction for international students. In the next few weeks Sonder Australia will bring you more information for specific cities in Australia to help you prepare better for your upcoming journey. If you feel a bit overwhelmed about studying and living in a foreign country on your own, check out the services Sonder Australia can provide. We offer a comprehensive range of support to international students. To find out more about how we can help contact Sonder Australia today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Jenny Jiang. Jenny is a student at the University of New South Wales and a member of the Sonder Australia team.